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Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced that the Car Allowance Rebate System, colloquially known as "cash for clunkers," will end its month-long run Monday, well before its scheduled ending date of November 1. As of Thursday, dealers had registered 457,000 transactions worth $1.9 billion.

The program originally was to receive $4 billion, but that was cut to $1 billion. When that appropriation lasted less than a week because of consumer interest, Congress approved another $2 billion, which was also supposed to carry the program to November 1.

The deadline gives consumers four more days to buy new, more fuel-efficient vehicles than what they now own, while obtaining a trade-in subsidy of $3500 or $4500 for their old models. In a statement, LaHood said:

"This program has been a lifeline to the automobile industry, jump-starting a major sector of the economy and putting people back to work. ...

"It’s been a thrill to be part of the best economic news story in America. ... Now we are working toward an orderly wind down of this very popular program."

Dealers have expressed concern that they have so far received less than 10% of the applied-for reimbursements from the government, something Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania and Sen. Harry Reid have complained about. Incomplete applications are blamed for some of the delay, but LaHood says more processors have been hired to speed up the reimbursements. GM Motors said Thursday that it would provide cash advances for dealers who haven't yet received reimbursements.

Both GM and Ford have called workers back to ramp up production to restore dealers' inventories cleared by sales associated with the CARS program. How the early cut-off may affect the automakers' plans is unknown. Before the CARS program was rolled out, some critics claimed it would distort the market and simply pull new car demand from later in the year into the summer months. The Los Angeles Times reported:

Economists credit the program with reviving moribund car sales. But with the cash incentives gone, some fear the newly buoyant auto market could quickly crash in its wake -- just as automakers rushed to boost production in response to clunker-driven sales.

"Life after "cash for clunkers" is going to be a tough one," said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends at TrueCar, which tracks vehicle sales and pricing. He predicted "a steep decline in sales" after the end of the program, which gives out $3,500 and $4,500 vouchers in exchange for qualifying used cars.

Still, there's little doubt that the program, known officially as the Car Allowance Rebate System, has succeeded in boosting sales. According to a projection by J.D. Power & Associates, sales will top 1 million vehicles in August, the first time in a year that that milepost will have been reached.

There is no plan to seek more funding.


Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 09:51 PM PDT.


Cash for clunkers

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm guessing that the auto industry... (15+ / 0-)

    ...would give the administration anything (up to and including first-born children) if only they would extend this incredible offer that won't last long!!! through Labor Day weekend.

    "When those windmills start to chop people up, tilting at them may not only be rational, but may become a necessity." -arodb

    by JR on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 09:53:52 PM PDT

  •  Other: a bad idea in theory, as executed, but (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zeke L, Odysseus, Donkey Hotey, MariaWr

    in practice worked out quite well.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 09:54:08 PM PDT

    •  Other: pie. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, Donkey Hotey, JC from IA, annieli

      "When those windmills start to chop people up, tilting at them may not only be rational, but may become a necessity." -arodb

      by JR on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 09:55:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The more I think about it... (14+ / 0-)

      ...the better an idea I think it is. It seems like it's stolen directly from Hamilton's Report on Manufacturers.

      I'd love to see this program made permanent with one addendum: The $4500 rebate is only applicable for cars that are 100% American-made, with a $2000 rebate for cars that are assembled in America of mostly foreign-built parts but by American-owned companies, and a $500 rebate for American-built cars with foreign badges.

      "I set up a stage, put up a few banners, stuck a podium up there, and started shouting 'Yes we can.' Next thing you know there's 150,000 people here." -Joe

      by Geiiga on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 09:58:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  3/other: slower burn rate (5+ / 0-)

      it should be continued, but with both a higher mileage differential between the clunker and the new vehicle, and with a smaller cash amount calibrated to make the program sustainable.

      l'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers

      by zeke L on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:39:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Other: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      missississy, MPociask

      I have a 1991 Ford Taurus wagon that when new got decent mileage; now that it's old and falling apart doesn't get anywhere near the rated mileage -- and so is not eligible.

      The cutoff was a bad idea.  You could trade in a 7 mpg Hummer for a 16 mpg Ford truck -- and it would get worse mileage than my car does.  I could (and would!) trade in my 21 mpg car for a 31 mpg tiny car, but can't.  That's what I'm not quite understanding.


      We're not on the mountaintop yet, but we can see it, now.


      by Marc in KS on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 06:04:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, that is dumb (0+ / 0-)

        The program should have a minimum requirement in terms of MPG (no trading in and getting something that gets less than 23 mpg maybe).  And should have been incentivized to trade up to an even higher mpg.

        Like say, a sliding scale.  You trade in for something that gets the base mpg allowed and you only get $2000, but if you trade in for something that gets even better mileage or the mpg differential between your car and the new one is HUGE and you get much more.

        I also agree with you that car age should be a factor as older cars tend to be more polluting and there is an environmental incentive to get them off the road as well.

        As much as I like the idea of this program, it does irritate me personally that some JACKASS who bought a Hummer three years ago (like an idiot) is now getting $4500 to help them get rid of something they should, quite frankly, have to take a bath on, whereas the people who DID the right thing years ago get nothing.  Way to reward bad behavior.  Sigh, but at least it gets those things off the road.

    •  Check out the petroluem use in the US '75-'00 (0+ / 0-)

      and you'll see that this is a FANTASTIC idea and should be enormously expanded on.

      Just look at the graph on the wikipedia page here:

      notice the giant drop after 1975 that doesn't climb back up to pre '75 levels until 2000?  This wasn't entirely due to the CAFE standards going into effect (there was also a recession and energy efficient home appliances were coming into existence as well), but it had a big effect.  Conservation of resources is necessary if we are going to be able to have any chance make the transition to alternative/renewable fuels.

      Hell they should be doing this for all kinds of things, not just cars.  Cash for old appliances, CRTs, etc.  We can achieve economies of scale with these kinds of programs that benefit everyone, not just those who actually make use of it.  Imagine what would happen to energy prices if everyone in the country switched to a car that got over 30mpg overnight?  It's a win/win as it stimulates economic activity at the same time it reduces everyone's energy footprint.  We just have to make sure we recycle all that old stuff (cars are great for that as they are one of the most completely recycled products around).

      On the other hand, without strict regulation of the energy industry, it would probably just amount to another profit windfall for Big Oil (tm).

  •  Other: I really have no idea. (0+ / 0-)

    Hi, MB.  I don't know why, but you've been in my thoughts lately.  I hope all is well with you.

    That is what is so striking about our governance: it is increasingly devoid of even the pretenses of public good. - Hunter

    by Mehitabel9 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 09:56:52 PM PDT

  •  How about continuing it... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    damned if you do

    with a provision that the purchased vehicle must get over 100 MPG?  Then double the offer.  

    Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    by Jahiz on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 09:58:03 PM PDT

    •  While putting a carbon tax (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      on fuel burning cars.

      Healthcare reform without a public option is lipstick on a pig.

      by thinkdouble on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:07:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What is the correct stat? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jahiz, Donkey Hotey, missississy

      I heard a third of all the energy ever used by a car is in its manufacture. Is that true?

      If so, the incremental benefits to average MPG are obliterated by the manufacture of new cars that wouldn't otherwise be bought.

      We have the same scheme over here, and it's been a bit of a disaster - everyone just spent it on cars manufactured abroad: it helped the dealers, btu not so much the factory workers.

      I can't believe there aren't better ways to invest during a recession than paying people to buy new cars. It strikes me as the least sustainable sort of fiscal stimulus in the world, though I'd be lying if I said I'd looked at the US version in detail.

      Brussels Delenda Est

      by Morus on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:12:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good point, except for one thing (7+ / 0-)

        I heard a third of all the energy ever used by a car is in its manufacture. Is that true?

        If so, the incremental benefits to average MPG are obliterated by the manufacture of new cars that wouldn't otherwise be bought.

        While there is a lot of energy used to make a car, energy made in a power plant with smoke stack scrubbers, at thousands of degrees is more efficient, cheaper, and produces less carbon dioxide then when the energy is produced on a small scale, like an engine in a car.  

        •  Small scale might save us. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Prognosticator, Donkey Hotey

          I agree with your point, but would add that if we begin to micro-produce energy, there would be no need of dirty power plants, or many clean power plants.  

          Decentralization is the key to a modern energy infrastructure. Millions producing small units of power rather than a few producing millions of units of power.  

          Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

          by Jahiz on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:48:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That would depend on the ratio (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            of pollutants to kWh or energy.  A windmill or solar panel will make very few pollutants, a small fossil-fuel burning engine (like a car) would make a lot.

            •  As such, small scale units of energy would... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JeffW, skohayes

              of necessity be produced at the lowest carbon ratio possible.

              In Taos, New Mexico (and Northern New Mexico in general) local energy production is encouraged, by whatever means necessary.  That isn't always the best way to produce energy - you'll get too many people burning wood because it is locally available and easily purchased - but it is localized.

              The point is for science and industry to encourage efficiency in the system, with the will of the government behind them.  


              Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

              by Jahiz on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:00:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  This also depends (0+ / 0-)

            on the energy cost of producing all those small scale energy producers as well as maintenance, upkeep, etc.  There are several things coming down the pipe in terms of energy efficiency that may make centralized power FAR more efficient than it is now (cabling from the plant to the user typically accounts for a loss of around 25 - 30% of the energy).  But check this out:


            Superconducting power cables!

        •  Cheers! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Donkey Hotey, annieli

          That makes sense!!

          So the question would become "do the efficiencies of newer cars override the carbon impact of the more-efficient power plant energy used in their construction?"

          I'm not being political here - I can understand that in the US the domestic automanufacture industry is close to sacred, and I can't get worked up by carbon puritanism if it keeps some of Michigan in work, but I do think that car scrappage (at least in the abstract) is a fairly ill-thought-through and clumsy policy.

          That's my morning heterodoxy anyhow - it's 06:50 am here in the UK, and I've not been to bed yet, so a little more work then off to sleep.

          Have a great day everybody!

          Brussels Delenda Est

          by Morus on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:50:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Is a good idea (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeff Y, missississy

    but I wish they'd waited until electric hybrids were in full use. Then the savings in gas plus the fight against global warming could have been hit both at the same time.

    So the terrorists of Gitmo are stronger, faster, and better than the USDOJ? The Senate thinks so. My. How "American".

    by RElland on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 09:59:21 PM PDT

  •  Sadly, it was of no benefit to me. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thinkdouble, liberte, tovan, JeffW, Jeff Y, MPociask

    Because the car that died was the more fuel-efficient one (they wouldn't have had to take steps to kill that one, it blew a piston.)

    Nonetheless, had that not happened, I would have been right in line for this, and I think it's a great idea.

    I am worried about the reports that dealers aren't getting the reimbursements, though. While I know car salesfolks don't have the best rep, $4,500 a car is a big hit for anyone.

    I was also really confused about the 1984 cutoff. I heard on NPR that it was so that classic cars wouldn't be scrapped, but then isn't there a possibility cars made in 1984 and after won't become classics? Made no sense to me.

  •  LTE in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (7+ / 0-)

    A few days ago there was a short letter from a man who had just celebrated his 50th anniversary--he relayed how his wife asked him if she could trade in her old clunker of a husband for cash.


  •  What progressive could possibly support this? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Limelite, Malumaureus, MPociask

    How can anyone support subsidizing suburban sprawl, subsidizing CO2 emissions, subsidizing unsustainable life and planning patterns?

    Why is it ok for the government to pay people to pollute and adopt a lifestyle that requires us to continue to pave things over at the expense of the tax payer, and the walkability and bikeability of neighborhoods?

    Why are we paying for people to continue being dependent on foreign oil?

    Does no one see how contrary to so many our goals this program is?

    •  See my diary ... (21+ / 0-)

      ...Set Up a Long-Term 'Cash for Clunkers' Program. Excerpt:

      Before going into details, the bigger picture should be acknowledged. Some environmentalists argue that such incentives foolishly feed America’s auto culture at a time when that needs to be completely transformed. They have a point. Over the long haul, we need to greatly alter the persons-per-car ratio in America. A green future means redensifying our urban areas and desurbanizing new development to allow for affordable, integrated public transit to meet far more of our transportation needs. Throughout the country, we need shared-auto programs, more and better trolleys and light rail systems, more buses, more interurban commuter rail and fully electrified heavy rail, including high-speed commuter and long-distance rail. To get there we need greener planning at the local, regional and federal levels. And, of course, another kind of green: public and private investment in the trillions.

      That’s not all. There are building codes, energy systems and a multitude of other efforts to be included in reshaping our living and working space, not the least of which is putting tens of millions of us into living space that is our working space, something which will have a major impact on transportation infrastructure.

      However, with all the stakeholders involved, with all the philosophical, political and economic objections, with all the NIMBYism put forth against the most modest changes in the way we build, energize and get around inside and between our communities, it is not difficult to imagine the powerful opposition that such a vision will produce. Bits of it can be seen everywhere a city has already moved toward turning one or more of such projects into reality. Nowhere is that more in evidence than when you start talking about taking away people’s cars. Outside Manhattan, San Francisco and a few green redoubts, it requires a change in mindset only a tiny fraction of Americans are willing to make.

      A green future will be achieved. We have no choice. But even if the blueprints were complete, the permits signed, the dollars screaming down the pipeline, a carbon tax or realistic cap-and-trade program enacted, and citizens 100% behind making the needed changes, the day when cars will make up a far smaller percentage of our favored modes of transportation would still be many, many years away. Creating the physical alternatives cannot be done overnight. Changing minds takes even longer.

      So a vast number of cars are going to be with us for a long time, no matter how rapidly the green future can overcome the foot-draggers. And the cars we now have on the road keep guzzling fuel, polluting the air and overburdening the atmosphere with new infusions of carbon dioxide for every mile they drive. Reducing fuel consumption lowers all three. The best short-run solution is getting people out of guzzlers and into ever-more fuel efficient vehicles until the time when there will be no need for new freeways and parking lots. A restructured CARS program would provide the proper incentives for moving in that direction.

      Some people would be better off not reading diaries they comment on, since they already have all the answers.

      by Meteor Blades on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:05:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're saying it's difficult so don't even try? (0+ / 0-)

        No, it's worse, you're saying it's difficult, so fuck it, let's subsidize the exact opposite.

        And you perform some sleight of hand that's completely unfair to this argument.  You say, "Nowhere is that more in evidence than when you start talking about taking away people’s cars. Outside Manhattan, San Francisco and a few green redoubts, it requires a change in mindset only a tiny fraction of Americans are willing to make."

        NO ONE is talking about taking away people's cars.  What we're saying is that the government shouldn't be subsidizing autos, as though owning a car is some sort of God-given right.  We're saying, don't cause ridiculous market distortions to encourage people to drive.

        You say "Creating the physical alternatives cannot be done overnight. Changing minds takes even longer."  How are we ever, ever, ever going to change people's minds when we tell people that private car ownership is so important that we will spend billions directly subsidizing car purchases?

        This is not a rhetorical question.  I seriously want you to answer that.  How are we going to convince people to move to sustainable, environmentally friendly modes of transportation while paying people to buy cars, essentially telling them that cars are the way they should be getting around?

        If you don't have an answer to that, your "I hear what you're saying but now's not the time" is the same nonsense that you and I and the rest of the progressive community have been fed on so many important issues, from gay rights to health care to (generations ago) minority and women's rights.  "Now's not the time" is a ridiculous answer.  If it's the right thing to do, it's the right thing to do NOW.

        If pursuing these things is the right thing to do, and you have stated you think it is, then now is the right time to start changing minds and changing policies.

        •  I invite you to re-read his response. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mayim, Egalitare, MPociask

          That's not what he's saying.

          To paraphrase someone I'd rather not paraphrase, you go to a greener future with the country you have, not the country you wish you had.

          To get from here to there, you gotta go through a bit of in-between.

          They only call it Class War when we fight back.

          by lineatus on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:54:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Setting up a Federal program isn't a go-between. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pd, Prognosticator

            Making cars $4,500 cheaper isn't the way to a greener future.  Why not take that money and directly subsidize public transit?  Turn in your car, get a decade of transit access in your area.  That'd make an actual difference -- why not do that?

            MeteorBlades is saying CARS should be a permanent program.  To paraphrase someone I'd rather not, a Federal program is the closest to immortality anything can get on this planet.

            Cars, and the TRILLIONS we've spent on a car-centric lifestyle, aren't sustainable.  We need to be moving away from them as quickly as possible.  Setting up a Federal program with billions of dollars to encourage people to buy new cars says that people ought to be driving.

            The gap between a car-centric society and one that is not dependent on cars is not filled with a car subsidy.  I'll ask it again, since I still haven't heard an answer:

            How can we encourage people to move away from auto-centric lifestyles while subsidizing their new vehicles to the tune of thousands of dollars?  How can both of those messages be plausibly put forth side by side?

            •  If you read my entire essay on the ... (8+ / 0-)

              ...subject, you will see that MeteorBlades is saying CARS should be a permanent program is completely inaccurate. You'll also see that I seek an additional amount of funding for mass transit equal to whatever is provided to this car-buying program. There needs to be an emphasis on rail and the massive changes to the grid that electrification of rail will take.

              And, as I noted before ever saying anything about how to fix the CARS program, we DO need to work toward reworking our society so that mass transit can be done more efficiently than in our currently sprawling cities. But, meanwhile, as these decades-long processes take place - and urban densification and desurbanization WILL take decades - people are going to need cars to get around. Making those the most efficient cars possible is not a bad thing.

              Some people would be better off not reading diaries they comment on, since they already have all the answers.

              by Meteor Blades on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:09:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You are right. I am sorry. (0+ / 0-)

                In your diary entitled "Set Up a Long-Term 'Cash for Clunkers' Program," you call for a "a two- or three- or five-year CARS program,"  You did not call for an unending program.  My fear, which I articulated very poorly above, is that such a program will essentially be permanent, because after five years, no one will want to turn the spigot off.

                And spending even five years, and, what, $50 billion? on buying new cars is a huge waste of money anyway, when that money could be spent actually accomplishing the goals you lay out.

                I guess the bottom line about where you and I disagree is simply that I think CARS gets us further from what we want to accomplish, and you think it gets us us closer.  I feel there's no way that the Feds helping people buy cars will help reach sustainability goals, when no car -- even a purely electric vehicle -- is sustainable in the long run when the infrastructure needed to support it is taken into account.  Encouraging car use at all is taking things in the wrong direction, because of the extremely high costs of roads, parking, enforcement, etc. (which are borne largely by cash-strapped local governments), to say nothing of the development patterns cars promote.  I see this like trying to get people to quit smoking by making filtered cigarettes cheaper.  

                And notice I said "trying to get people to quit."  No one is talking about taking anyone's cars away.  What we need to do is stop supporting policies that make cars the obvious, go-to choice for transportation.  Governments, from the Feds on down, make choices that encourage or discourage behavior, and right now the environment is totally stacked towards automobiles.  If that climate changes, mindsets and lifestyle habits will change too.

                CARS isn't encouraging them to change lifestyle habits, it's just encouraging them to switch to a mildly less unsustainable way of conducting business as usual.  It's not aggressive enough, and, in fact, will likely entrench the way we do things now.

                Can you show me any examples of the government changing people's behavior in the direction of sustainability by subsidizing a slightly less polluting version of the lifestyle pattern they're trying to change?

      •  Are NEVs included in your proposal, MB? (0+ / 0-)

        Neighborhood Electric Vehicles may be one terrific answer for suburban intracity transportation.  We don't need an SUV to run to the store or post office.  If the cash-for-clunkers program had included them, and if my old car had qualified (which it didn't, being a 1981), I would have bought one in a heartbeat.  

        Plus, I believe they're all made in the USA. Win/win.

        "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat." Will Rogers

        by tovan on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:53:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, they're not all made in the USA. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Meteor Blades, tovan

          Most are made in China.  And one brand, Zenn, is Canadian.

          And as much as we'd like to dream that'd be the case, your average city dweller will not trade in their car for a low-speed vehicle; only the far edge of environmentalism like you and I would consider that.  

          The answer is high speed electric vehicles.  And they're coming out en masse in the coming years.

        •  Under my proposal, electrics would ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...get a subsidy based on some formula related to how much mileage they get per charge (or a flat rate subsidy since they use no gasoline).

          Some people would be better off not reading diaries they comment on, since they already have all the answers.

          by Meteor Blades on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:55:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Whether we like it or not, a lot of people need (9+ / 0-)

      cars to get around.  I live 21 miles from my job.  I'm in South Florida where there are no subways, and the busses and commuter rail are not extensive.  Even if I were to take them, it would still put me an extra hour out of my way, and my 25 minute drive would probably become a 2 hour public transportation commute.  

      I just spent the last four years in Manhattan, so believe me, I love public transportation and I miss NYC transit every day.  I found a MetroCard in my purse the other day and got sad.  But most areas of the country are not New York City and they don't have a sufficient mass transit system.  So basically, I need my car and so do a lot of other people.  I wish that weren't the case but it is.  There are a lot of people like me who need cars for day-to-day life.  Cash For Clunkers isn't subsidizing crappy cars.  It's encouraging people who already drive to get rid of their gas guzzlers and get a more efficient vehicle.  If cars are going to be on the road regardless, I would rather the government subsidize and encourage the purchase of ones that will have less of a negative impact on the environment.

      •  You were in an transit-efficient environment, (0+ / 0-)

        and you chose to leave it.  Now your carbon footprint is doubtlessly far larger, and you're using a lot of gas and oil that we have to get from OPEC and elsewhere.  Your car, along with the tens of thousands it shares the roads with, requires highways that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and maintain.

        That's the sort of choice the Federal government should not be subsidizing.  If anything, they should be doing all they can to get people to move the opposite direction -- not necessarily to megalopoli like NYC, but to lifestyles that don't require autos.

        Subsidizing your move from a gas guzzler to a more efficient car is paying you to not reevaluate your situation and consider fuel costs and the maintenance of your vehicle in deciding how to live your life.  The Federal government is paying people like you to punt on these issues, so that instead of looking at your hard-to-maintain old car that burns oil and gobbles gas and saying, "I ought to live in a way that I don't need this thing," you've got a whole bunch more years before your car starts to bug you.  If CARS funds were used instead to get people to move closer to where they work, or give up their car entirely, they'd be doing a lot more for the environment than switching out inefficient cars driven in from the suburbs with more efficient cars STILL driven in from the suburbs.

        •  Excuse me, but you know nothing about why I'm no (13+ / 0-)

          longer in NY.  I didn't "chose to leave it".  Not that I need to justify my life to you, but I graduated from college, and because of the crappy economy couldn't find a job.  My parents aren't rich and can't afford to pay my rent for me until I find something, and a part time job won't cut it since, on top of rent and other bills, I have student loan bills to pay.  Basically it was a choice of stay in Manhattan and be broke and homeless or move in with my parents until I can save enough money to move back to New York.  But by all means, continue to make assumptions about me and my life choices since it seems to make you feel morally superior.

          You also know nothing about my car.  I mostly drive a Mini Cooper.  I'd like to get a hybrid my next go around (which probably won't be for a very long time since I want to move back to NY), but my Mini is a 2003 and still has a lot of life left in it with some pretty good mileage and MPG.  It's not perfect, but it's what I have, and it's better than a lot of vehicles out there.

          This move that you're touting to a better life style isn't going to happen overnight.  It takes time to make mass transit a plausible option in a lot of areas.  It takes time to move away from highways.  Until we are able to accomplish these things, I see no problem with the government subsidizing the purchase of more fuel efficient vehicles.  Let's say that in ten year's time, we're able to transform the country into a place where not a single person needs a car.  Until that day arrives, would you rather everyone drive SUVs or something more fuel efficient due to government assistant and encouragement?

          •  You're right! I have no idea who you are. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            missississy, IrishBreakfastTea

            And being forced by circumstances to leave somewhere you want to be really sucks -- I've been there too, more than once.  Eventually you're going to be back in a situation where you can make choices about where and how you live, however.  My point is that at that time, if you have a new or new-ish car in your driveway that has been partly paid for already by Uncle Sam, you're going to be less likely to part with it, or the concomitant lifestyle.

            In the long run, autos are unsustainable.  I would rather the government not distort the market in such a way as to encourage people to continue to choose unsustainable lifestyle patterns.

            I'm glad to hear you drive a reasonably efficient vehicle.  The fuel efficiency of the vehicle is only a small part, however, of the long-term sustainability of driving as a pattern of land use and transportation.  It's not simply the vehicle itself; it's the many hundreds of billions spent on roads and bridges and tunnels and highway police and cleanup and utilities that have to be connected to far-flung suburbs and parking lots paved over paradise.  This is what we need to be moving away from.  Getting people out of SUVs and into efficient cars is a nice idea, but getting people out of cars altogether is what we need to be focusing on.

            As I said above, CARS is like subsidizing filtered cigarettes in an effort to get people to stop smoking tobacco.  If it doesn't address the lifestyle choice as a whole, all it's going to do is make the unsustainable habit cheaper.

            You say above,

            It takes time to move away from highways.  Until we are able to accomplish these things, I see no problem with the government subsidizing the purchase of more fuel efficient vehicles.  Let's say that in ten year's time, we're able to transform the country into a place where not a single person needs a car.  Until that day arrives, would you rather everyone drive SUVs or something more fuel efficient due to government assistant and encouragement?

            I just don't understand the mindset that we can subsidize what we want to move away from until the time comes to do the opposite.  Until "that day arrives," we need to be getting people to stop driving by building systems that they prefer to use.  In the interim, absolutely, use regulations like CAFE standards and other measures to boost fuel efficiency in new cars coming off the line.  But paying people to buy cars will not result in fewer cars on the road.

            •  I know this is late, but I did want to respond (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              since I was maybe a little snippy in my last reply and you brought up a lot of good points.

              It's not simply the vehicle itself; it's the many hundreds of billions spent on roads and bridges and tunnels and highway police and cleanup and utilities that have to be connected to far-flung suburbs and parking lots paved over paradise.  This is what we need to be moving away from.  Getting people out of SUVs and into efficient cars is a nice idea, but getting people out of cars altogether is what we need to be focusing on.

              I don't disagree with this at all.  I need my car, but believe me, I don't want it.  If South Florida had an efficient mass transit system for me to use, or everything was in walking distance, I would dump my car in a second.  I think most other people would too.  Not only because of environmental reasons, but people don't like monthly payments to pay down their lease/car loan and to pay insurance.  It also really sucks when something breaks down, and suddenly you have to spend 400 dollars unexpectedly on some new breaks.  And then there's not needing to pay for gas.  Not being saddled to a car is good for the environment and good for my wallet.

              That being said, I think this is a bit of a false comparison:

              As I said above, CARS is like subsidizing filtered cigarettes in an effort to get people to stop smoking tobacco.  If it doesn't address the lifestyle choice as a whole, all it's going to do is make the unsustainable habit cheaper.

              This country moving on from cars isn't the same as quitting cigarettes.  I know quitting smoking is hard for people-- my step-dad spent years trying to give up the habit before he finally succeeded four years ago.  That being said, quitting smoking is not an undertaking that requires decades like shifting away from cars would.  The federal government can't just ride in and start building whatever it wants.  Once we get the necessary money budgeted for these projects that money needs to go through the states, then the projects need to be planned and designed, and then they need to be built.  Unfortunately, that takes time.

              I also agree with you that regulations are important.  But think about all the people who 2 months ago were driving inefficient vehicles who maybe now have hybrids or small coups.  The vehicles themselves may be a small part, but they still have an effect.  The government definitely needs to get the ball rolling on moving us away from cars and highways, but that can go hand in hand with encouraging the purchase of the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars possible.

        •  You're right! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          No one should live in rural areas!  Those farmers should give up growing food in those far away places with their needs for getting around and move to the big city!  Or they should just go back to using horses and wagons to move all that food to the urban areas.  Or we should build a light rail for those THREE people who live there.

          We can grow food in our super advanced arcologies in our densely packed urban areas!

          Let's do a little math real quick and talk about the "efficiency of urban living".  Food.  Let's say, on average, that a person eats 2-4 lbs of food a day (I'll bet I'm underestimating).  There are 18.8 million people in the New York City metro area.  That means, almost 40,000 TONS of food shipped in every day as a probably insignificant amount is produced on site. That is a fleet of 1000 semis at maximum capacity in and out of the city every day (and based on distances from food production sites, probably a LOT more).  And that is just New York. Not to mention the heat produced from giant enclosed glass and steel buildings.  Not to mention all the energy produced from lighting the place non-stop (try not doing so as well, and watch the crime rate make the place an armed camp).

          You're right that urban living allows you to very much reduce your carbon footprint re: driving, but living there is NOT the panacea of energy efficiency you seem to think it is.

  •  Heard something onthe Newshour, it made me laugh (16+ / 0-)

    A Cash for Clunkers chuckle. I don't know who said it because I was in the kitchen cooking but I had the Newshour on and someone said about the car dealers complaining about not getting paid yet "That's like throwing a life preserver to a drowning man and listening to him complain about the color."

    What a visual.

    Barack Obama said today that three times as many people as originally planned are processing forms to get the money to the dealers.

    •  That's a lot like doctors who "complain"... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MaikeH, MPociask

      ...that Medicare reimbursements take "too long" to get to them, while battling sometimes unsuccessfully with Private Insurers for the portion of the procedure they alledgedly cover.

      Medicare: Government-run Health Care since 1965

      by Egalitare on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 06:28:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cash for gas guzzlers is more accurate. (12+ / 0-)

    Too bad the "clunkers" program was more for gas guzzlers than for real clunkers. I would have loved to trade in my 16 year-old $3,000-in-bodywork-needing Civic, but it was too fuel efficient (if it started and actually ran to burn gas, that is). I can't help feeling a little penalized because all those years ago I bought an efficient car.

    Healthcare reform without a public option is lipstick on a pig.

    by thinkdouble on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:05:11 PM PDT

    •  Me, too (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, thinkdouble, MPociask

      I have a 13 year old Sunfire I can't afford to replace at the end of the month when it goes, and then I won't be able to work outside the house if the opportunity arises.

      How about this time a subsidy for people who need the help? Because right now I feel like I paid for somebody to buy a brand new car who was able to afford it on their own.

      If wanting the country to succeed is wrong, I don't want to be right.

      by Angela Quattrano on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:36:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Look at it like this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Say the average person drives 15,000 miles/year.

      If you upgrade from a 25mpg vehicle to a 35mpg vehicle you are cutting gas usage by ~171.5 gallons/year (600gpy vs 428.5gpy).

      If you upgrade from a 15mpg vehicle to a 25mpg vehicle you are cutting gas usage by 400 gallons/year (1000gpy vs 600gpy).

      Transitioning people from low-mileage cars to medium-mileage cars has a greater impact on our energy and environmental policy than transitioning people from medium-mileage cars to high-mileage cars.

      And yes I'm aware that you are currently getting 0mpg, but I hope you can see why the program was set up the way it was.

      •  A mathematical excuse for rewarding poor behavior (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Let's say you have a 15 year old 25 mpg vehicle that you bought used.  Since it's 15 years old, it probably doesn't actually get 25 mpg.  In fact, it probably gets closer to 20.  Not to mention it needs several hundred dollars in work to get it back in shape.  So fine, you would get such and such gallon increase.

        Now let's deal in reality.  Person two brought a brand new pick-up truck five years ago, which they use entirely for commuting, not for work purposes.  Now they're getting another brand new pick-up truck, that has a 2-3 mpg increase.  

        Now person A, who made a responsible car choice and has a POS of car, is subsididizing person B's purchase of a brand new car.  

        I hope you can see why people are upset that the program is rewarding bad behavior, creating moral hazard, and punishing responsible behavior.  

        •  That's not reality (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I challenge you to find me one case in which someone traded in a 5 year old truck, which would still retain a value of tens of thousands of dollars, for $4500. Remember, the dealer has to crush the car.

          Good behavior is its own reward, and bad behavior is its own punishment. A person who buys a 25mpg car pays for 400 gallons of gas less per year than the person who buys the 15mpg car, that would be a savings of 6000 gallons of gas over the 15 years you used as an example, or $12,000-$15,000 depending on the price of gas where you live.

          Your "moral hazard" has just reduced the amount of gasoline bought and burnt in this country by at least 250,000,000 gal/year. More "moral hazard" please!

  •  Other: All in all, surprisingly good. A few (11+ / 0-)

    tweaks here or there and it could be an excellent program.

    A sliding program of rebates for GAIN in MPG, up to $4500 for 30 mpg improvement would be best, and any car which meets or exceeds CAFE standards should NOT be required to be destroyed.

    This has to be one of the best economic programs, at least for manufacturing, in many years.

    I know its protectionist, but I'd prefer to at least encourage the program to US built autos..  if that could mostly be encouraged through a rule or two, that would be best.

    The program should be extended, going forward, with modified rules.

    •  If we're looking at needing another stimulus next (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, mayim, Egalitare

      year (not an unreasonable assumption, especially for an election year), I could easily see this coming back in the form you describe.  Sliding scale based on efficiency of new vehicle, (in)efficiency of old vehicle, and perhaps domestic content of new vehicle.  It was a program that people liked, so even republicans would get behind it in an election year.  Hell, they'll probably try to take credit for it.

      They only call it Class War when we fight back.

      by lineatus on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:58:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It worked, so of course the Wingers hate it (7+ / 0-)

    They'd rather spend tax payer money on tax cuts for the rich and the Military Industrial Complex.

    In spite of what Obama claims, the feds have really not spent much money. Hardly any of the dealers have been paid. So, these guys can't handle a little program like "cash for clunkers", but what could possible go wrong with taking over health care?
    Posted by: Rick Caird | August 20, 2009 6:32 PM

    "I feel stupid and contagious. Here we are now, entertain us" - Kurt Cobain 1991

    by Jeff Y on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:06:44 PM PDT

    •  Right wing.. Left wing... (0+ / 0-)

      One can very easily draw the conclusion that our government did not handle this program very well...

      and then extrapolate that to the health care argument..  Had this program functioned may have eased most American's fears of the public option.

  •  ... (10+ / 0-)

    It's a bad idea for me because of the qualifications for old vehicles. Firstly, I've owned my old mobile for less than a year. Personals aside, it seems rather unfairly biased towards those who made environmentally damaging decisions in the past, in that some cars don't qualify because they aren't as bad as SUVs in mileage even though they're older.

    Also, I'm pretty sure I can go the rest of my life without ever hearing the word "clunker" again.

    •  That's one of the corrections I'd like to ... (5+ / 0-)

      ...see in a longer-term CARS program as I noted in my recent diary, which is linked elsewhere in this thread.

      Some people would be better off not reading diaries they comment on, since they already have all the answers.

      by Meteor Blades on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:16:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My '83 Volvo doesn't qualify either (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mayim, missississy, Egalitare, MPociask

      But the pickup down the street with the "My truck ran over your Prius" bumper sticker?  No problem.

      I know there's good people out there who benefitted from this, but it's hard for me to think of it as anything other than a subsidy for assholes.  Most of the poor people I know (who could use the help) drive smaller cars built before the big truck boom of the 2000's, and don't qualify.

      Interesting too, that while the program targets vehicles with low fuel efficiency, it virtually ignores emissions (see Volvo example above).

      I'm not anti-environmentalism, I'm anti-colonialism.

      by sneakers563 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:32:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would like to expand the theory (5+ / 0-)

    I would like to give the middle class tax incentives like this for all kind's of thing's like for instance low power refrigerator's,bicycles, anything recycled,etc all of which must be made in america.

    Crank up the crazy and rip off the knob!

    by Dugits on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:14:52 PM PDT

  •  1, 3, 4, & 8 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Odysseus, MPociask

    It is a good concept when applied properly -- corporate welfare that benefits the individual. It could be better by enacting stricter standards on new vehicles. It could be better by opening up to those who already own older fuel efficient vehicles who would like to add a second car or trade in old reliable for new reliable (in which case the used car should be refurbished and made available to someone in need).

    Such bailout funds could be used for other manufacturers who employ large numbers of Americans, or in other industries that need help, or to homeowners or those in deep credit card debt. A program that helps the individual and helps keystone businesses and/or industries is what I've been advocating for since last September, in a sense.

    It would be a horrible idea to apply to the Insurance industry, though. Horrible.

    There's nothing to believe in
    The loudest mouth will hail the new found way

    by wanderindiana on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:16:00 PM PDT

  •  It's a good start. But time to raise the min MPG (7+ / 0-)


    Dem Shitlist: Baucus Bennet Byrd Carper Johnson Landrieu Lincoln Nelson Pryor Specter Tester Wyden Feinstein

    by gokinsmen on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:17:46 PM PDT

    •  True enough but right after (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      9/11 the auto industry seemed to be pushing Hummers and the like.  Think that was for the oil industry?  Perhaps the oil industry could help out in kind like gas vouchers or something.

      "Politics is not left, right or center ... It's about improving people's lives." -Paul Wellstone

      by maggiejean on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:21:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cash for Clunkers (10+ / 0-)

    is a much better idea than Bush's cash for Humvees.  Dentists and Accountants were getting as much as $18,000 tax breaks for buying humvees.  

    The cash for clunkers didn't have strict enough rules for trading up, but they wanted to sell some of Detroit's bigger cars.  One thing to consider, though, is that upgrading from 10 mpg to 15 mpg is much more effective than upgrading from 20 mpg to 25 mpg.  It's gallons per mile rather than mpg that's important.

    Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann (and btw, the bike in kayakbiker is a bicycle)

    by Kayakbiker on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:21:06 PM PDT

  •  Good idea, but I'm not sure how (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it could be continued on a permanent basis. I mean, they thought $1 billion would last until November, and it looks like the $3 billion will be used up in 1 month.

  •  They’re squeaking on one of the few ideas (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wanderindiana, RebeccaG

    that's had a noticeable economic benefit.
    It has helped car dealerships, auto manufacturers, cash-strapped consumers etc.
    They can spend trillions on these top-down bank bailout policies (with little or no help for foreclosed homeowners), trillions on wars, but they squeak like hell on anything that helps average American consumers, manufacturers and workers.
    I’m getting really disgusted with this administration. Just about everything they’ve done has benefitted billionaires more than anyone else. They think they can keep us happy with a few crumbs every now and then.

    •  I dont blame the administration (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      They pushed for the idea, and wanted more money for it. If they thought Congress would appropriate more money, I imagine they would ask for it.  

      •  They should have asked for more money (0+ / 0-)

        and made the republicans look like the bad guys (only helping the rich etc.) if they opposed it.
        Publicly asking for more money would have been the right thing to do, especially when considering what the republican priorities have always been (only helping the rich, protecting insurance co.s, shitting on the poor etc.)
        It would have worked, if the Obama team wasn't so chicken-shit.

        •  This was done in the immediate wake... (0+ / 0-)

          ...of the very unpopular Big Three bailout. It really wasn't until people saw local auto dealerships being forced out of business by the downsizing of the domestic automakers that they realized just how many "Real Americans" were in the auto industry.

          You can be sure that the next iteration of this program will meet with less resistance.

          Medicare: Government-run Health Care since 1965

          by Egalitare on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 06:47:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The program got negotiated down to $1 billion... (0+ / 0-) the interest of being "deficit prudent" by the usual suspects.

        Medicare: Government-run Health Care since 1965

        by Egalitare on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 06:49:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bottom-up stimulus works. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, RebeccaG, Mike Taylor, Egalitare

      This is what it looks like, and it should be applied elsewhere, repeatedly, in favor of straight handouts to industries or sectors of our economy.

      There's nothing to believe in
      The loudest mouth will hail the new found way

      by wanderindiana on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:40:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  also generates taxes back to the govt? (0+ / 0-)

      sales taxes & fees
      income taxes

  •  at least one person's probably happy... (4+ / 0-)

    I didn't get Jack from Abramoff...I'm not a Republican!

    by nonnie9999 on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:26:31 PM PDT

  •  just plain crazy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDoorjam, DBunn

    At some point, or so the peak oil gurus tell us, gas prices will stop rising linearly and start going up geometrically. Probably somewhere just north of $4/gallon we'll see it jump to $8/gallon ... and then $16/gallon.

     Pissing away two billion dollars on cars? That's 2.5% of what is needed to electrify rail in this country ... and with the property price crash those vehicles likely won't have decent roads to run on anyway, dramatically shortening their life.

     I understand people are hurting in Michigan. That doesn't change the facts of the matter.

    "Not dead ... yet. Still have ... things to do." -Liet Kynes

    by Stranded Wind on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:29:15 PM PDT

    •  how much to dealers, how much to manufacturers? (0+ / 0-)

      What if a car company had to be retooling to build electric or hydrogen fueled vehicles to be eligible? What if they had to be working on collision avoidance systems that someday might turn highways into individual "light rail" systems whereby upon entering a merge lane to a highway a smart system controls the flow of traffic, which would also reduce emissions and fuel consumption through much, much greater efficiency?

      Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      There's nothing to believe in
      The loudest mouth will hail the new found way

      by wanderindiana on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:38:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm so glad it's over... (0+ / 0-)

      it has to be one of the most dysfunctional incentives I've seen.

      Time lost is always a disadvantage that is bound in some way to weaken him who loses it. -Clausewitz

      by Malachite on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:42:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A smoothed phase-out would have been nice... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    going through rebate stages, like $3000, $1500, month by month - until the program ended.

    That way there wouldn't be such a large negative shock to the economy upon its end, and the government wouldn't have to pay full rebate price the whole way.

  •  Is there any chance some car dealers continue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Situational Lefty

    the program on their own in some way, that is, offering some sort of rebate(maybe not as much $4,500) for trading in a clunker. I guess it would depend on if they could afford it, but it might help them continue to sell cars.

  •  thou returnest! (0+ / 0-)

    Was nice to see a photo of you on a photodiary here. I agree with others here that you are a cool looking dude.

    Thanks for all your inspiration, as always. Onwards and skewwards!

    (Sometimes you have to go skewwards. It's useful to be flexible.)

    "To live outside the law you must be honest." Bob Dylan

    by mieprowan on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:31:12 PM PDT

  •  I know little about the cash for clunkers (0+ / 0-)

    since I never learned to drive.

    My kid bother did express to me concerns that people being able to trade in for high-end Ford trucks and hummers was not ideal.

    "To live outside the law you must be honest." Bob Dylan

    by mieprowan on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:32:24 PM PDT

  •  How much for Inhofe or Grassley? (7+ / 0-)

    I mean those are real clunkers. One is a carbon spewing dinosaur that people are afraid to be on the road with because of the crazy driving. The other has been making some really loud knocking noises lately and I'm afraid it's just going to have to be scrapped.

    "There is a time when panic is the appropriate response."

    by londubh on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:39:54 PM PDT

  •  Wow, that was fast (6+ / 0-)

    I barely had time to even explain that program to interested parties.

    Hey, maybe if we pay people to turn in their shitty insurance company healthcare packages we can get a public option.

    The barter system will outlive us all.

  •  Voted other (0+ / 0-)

    quite frankly I think that all of the options in this poll are right to a certain extent with the exception of number six.

  •  my clunkers saga (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Just a description of how it went for one guy.

    I have a '98 Ford Ranger XLT, and have been idly thinking about getting something different, to make it easier to haul my piano keyboard around - I need to be able to lock it into something, which means a compact SUV of some sort.

    I heard about CFC the day before it started, and started doing my research.  That first week was the week of the huge heatwave here in Portland, and I'm self-employed, so I spent the week trying to find air-conditioning and doing the bare minimum of work for my clients.

    On Friday I thought it would be a good day to start looking, only to find out that that was the day that CFC might be ending.  Some of the dealers were not taking applications anymore, others were telling me I had to buy by the end of the day or it would disappear.

    I test drove a Subaru Forester - it was okay, but vaguely disappointing, and I hadn't done enough price research on it.  I test drove a CR-V and was prepared to make an offer, but my keyboard won't fit in it comfortably.  By then it was night time.

    Saturday I did more research, hearing that CFC might be extended.  Sunday I called around for Rav4's, and they were sold out of all dealers in the entire Portland/Vancouver area.

    I hadn't done any research beyond those models and ran out of time, needing to focus on workweek stuff.  I put myself on Rav4 mailing lists, and in about a week, was told one was in stock and waiting for me.

    I went to go test drive it and started trying to talk price.  They had the price set at $1800 above invoice, above MSRP, along with an extra $1000 dealer special package, something to do with "paint guard".  I tried to counter and the dealer said their price was firm and that they had other people on the way in to drive it.  I left and they didn't give me a second look.

    My clunker (with a recent new engine in it) can get more than a few hundred on the private market, so a $4500 credit probably gives me about $2500 - $3000 benefit.  The dealer had eaten all the way into that margin.  I kept myself on the list for a couple of other dealers, went on a pre-arranged trip with my girlfriend, and was planning on taking another look next week, expecting manufacturing to catch up to demand a bit.

    So now it looks like I won't be able to take advantage - I'm out of state until Monday.  I definitely think it distorted the market.  I think it helped the car companies temporarily, although they might get hit over the next month again.  It helped the consumers that were lucky or prepared enough to get good deals in the first 4-5 days.  The dealers made out like bandits, you know they've been marking things up like crazy.  It probably helped the environment a bit, although the money could have been put to better use for that.  It probably hurts the used car market a bit.  Overall, I think it worked out to be just a lot of frustrating froth.

    •  Boo Hoo (0+ / 0-)

      And you never went to the ford dealer to look at an escape, or a chevy dealer to check out the equinox?

      Pay over retail, huh at least you did not let the dealer roll you...but did it occur to you to go east, young man?  There are more dealers a bit east...guess it was just too much bother...

  •  The rules are not so good (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, snowbelt, DBunn, Mr K, JeffW, MPociask
    1. It should have allowed any trade-in as long as the new car got a percentage (maybe 25) better mileage.
    1. The rules didn't take into account the age of the clunker. I drive a mini station wagon - rated at 25 mpg - but its 15 years old, there is no way its getting anywhere close to 25 mpg.

    Member, The Angry Left

    by nosleep4u on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 10:51:16 PM PDT

  •  See, I'm wondering why the dealers are bitching (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DBunn, JeffW, mayim

    so much.  Did they really think they were going to get their money in a matter of days?  Were they lead to believe that?

    WTF? The Whole deal isn't a month old!

    •  Fed. govt. generally shoots for max of 30 days (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      after receipt of invoice, to pay for transactions at that level.  They coulda ast.  Maybe they didn't read the fine print?

      So it's close to half a million transactions.  I expect each one would be validated -- damn' sure hope so! -- and an e-payment authorized.  This was not a govt. function that was sitting there ready to go.  I'm impressed they were able to mobilize it that quickly once it was authorized. Govt. does not usually do this on-the-fly stuff so easily.

      One of the unheard stories about the stimulus -- and it's universal across govt. -- is the staggering workload it's created for accounting and procurement staffs.  Those people already had full workloads with their regular appropriations.  Unlike Iraq & Katrina, procurement and accounting regs haven't been thrown out. And it takes months to hire help. That's the bottleneck.

    •  It's the MSM being fair and balanced. (0+ / 0-)

      If a program is a huge, popular success, it's time to highlight the part that people wish could be different.  

      "I'm specificallly allowed to call people names and I don't have to use profanity to do so because I have a vocabulary unlike some of the morans on this site."

      by Inland on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 05:40:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not only that... (0+ / 0-)

      but many of the dealers are temporarily jacking up their prices 3 or 4 k per car during this, so they're pulling in even more money than they would without the program.  Greed plain and simple.  

      As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities." - Voltaire

      by Dedalus2k on Sun Aug 23, 2009 at 12:30:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is a sustainable idea out there (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man, DBunn, JeffW, MPociask

    S. 1620 would create a tax credit not unlike the tax credits for energy efficiency in the home.

    I haven't checked out the specifics of the bill yet, but it seems like a good idea since we can't keep writing a $1 billion check every week to keep the program moving.

    btw: if $1 billion lasted one week, why did Congress think $2 billion would last two months?

    On what planet do you spend most of your time?

    by Casual Wednesday on Thu Aug 20, 2009 at 11:00:48 PM PDT

  •  Other: It is a good program (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, DBunn, JeffW, mayim, MPociask

    but too strict as to what old cars qualified.

    Any car more than 10 years old pollutes very much more than newer cars with better computer systems and sensors.  And many older cars made more than 18 mpg combined according to the EPA but sure as hell are not "economical" to keep around.

    The program should have allowed at least $3000 for an old car making up to 24 mpg combined, provided that the new car made at least 2 more MPG greater. Or, just remove the limit and provide that any new car be rated at more than 3 mpg more than the old car.

    But at any rate, the "old cars" rule was too tight.  Lots more polluting cars would be off the road, otherwise.

    The program should continue until the "recovery" is complete and/or until the government is no longer an owner of auto companies.

  •  I get the environmental justification (0+ / 0-)

    and I agree with it, and support it for that reason. But, if you don't use that justification, I disagree with you.

    I will say this program is better than the bailout and corporate welfare, but subsidies are like steroids: to use the steroids analogy, a player takes steroids. Previously did not make sense to sign him for $x, but now does. The team reaches an agreement with him, then down the road steroids take their toll on him and he can no longer play, causing signing him to have been a malinvestment.

    The car industry overexpanded, and they are now having troubles because of it. This program has the potential to cause more of the same in propping up demand and causing capital to be directed there from more efficient uses.

    But, I support this for environmental reasons and this does get clunkers off the road a few years earlier than before. But from an economic standpoint, I don't like this. We should not be taxing or subsidizing except to the extent it internalizes the external costs and benefits, respectively, or an action.

  •  What I like about this program (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, JeffW, MPociask
    1. Leverage. When a $4500 government subsidy is matched by $10K, $20K or more from a private party (the buyer), that's a good deal for the taxpayer.
    1. Bottom-up. Instead of pouring money in at the corporate level to banks or automakers, the money enters at the retail level, providing direct assistance to individual buyers.
    1. Market magic. For those who think markets have special wisdom, this program allows consumers to cast their votes as to which fuel-efficient car models are best.
    1. It works. People are buying more cars with greater fuel efficiency.

    None of the above should be taken to mean that Cash for Clunkers is any kind of ultimate answer. Getting our country off of its dependence on imported oil initially, and then automobiles altogether, is... um, a longer project. But as a first intermediate step, I like it.

  •  Silicon Valley lost 17% of its jobs 2001-08 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pd, aliasalias

    I don't see "Cash for Computers" or any thought that perhaps the government should be trying to bail out an industry where America still leads and is likely to in the future.

    But car manufacturing, where the American automakers have failed to make products that people want, gets bailed out for purely political reasons--they have a few big companies and a few big unions.  Even though heavy manufacturing is an area where at best America might be mediocre and not a leader (and many economists think we should give up entirely), we waste money propping it up.

    It really doesn't make any sense.  California is doing as badly as the Rust Belt this time, and I'm not hearing of any help coming this way.

  •  I hate this program (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pd, JDoorjam, MPociask

    the environmental benefits are complete b.s. The environmental costs of manufacturing even a Prius are many, many times worse than the environmental harms caused by an old car (1984+). The idea of pouring a substance into the engine to destroy something that is valuable and useful is the height of hubris and arrogance to me. Go visit Cuba where they do everything in their power to keep cars from the 1950's running. We may one day see days like that here as well, and then we'll need every last bit of working hardware that we can salvage out of this wasteful period in our history.

    •  You are going to have to do your homework here (0+ / 0-)

      The environmental costs of manufacturing even a Prius are many, many times worse than the environmental harms caused by an old car (1984+)

      [citation needed]

      •  I've done some googling about this before,.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and he's wrong.  Cars use far more energy in their lifetime than is used to manufacture them.  The solution, of course, is to build efficient cars and keep them running as long as possible.  But getting guzzlers off the road is a good idea.

  •  we shouldn't encourage the (0+ / 0-)

    "automobile culture?" WTF is that supposed to mean?

    "FORMER President Bush." You can't say that enough.

    by jem286 on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 01:05:52 AM PDT

    •  It means... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...some people expect everybody to take the bus, or the (usually) non-existant subway.

      Ain't gonna happen, folks.

      Not only doesn't public transit get enough subsidies for that to even be reasonable, nobody ever attacks one of the main reasons for sprawl-tought zoning laws in urban areas.  If anybody could build an apartment building as high as they wanted to in areas close to jobs, and office buildings as tall as they want to close to residencial areas, public transit would work better.  But zoning laws are mostly local issues, and in local issues, NIMBYs rule.

      •  Yeah, I live in Houston (0+ / 0-)

        and it is impossible to take solely public transportation. You HAVE to have a car here; it's terrible. And there's nothing really wrong with having a car, as long as it's fuel efficient, decent for the environment, and well-maintained.

        "FORMER President Bush." You can't say that enough.

        by jem286 on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:48:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  700,000 people enjoying that new car smell (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    espresso, oxfdblue, missississy

    This is just a thought.  I have no statistics.  I have no polls.  Nevertheless, in a time when things are pretty g*****n awful, having a big bunch of Americans get their old cars off their driveways and have new cars might give quite a few people that warm sense of well-being.  Saving some money at the gas pump might put a little jingle in their pockets and Lord knows, there are lots of people who think money will light on fire if it stays too long in their pockets.

    I mean, it's not like we've ended any wars or enacted universal healthcare lately.

    Teachers weave straw into gold and squeeze coal into diamonds.

    by algebrateacher on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 01:12:48 AM PDT

    •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When this thing first started and quickly ran through that first billion, one of things I said about it is would encourage OTHER consumer buying.

      People love getting a new car.  Going from some shitbox to a nice, new car with no dings, no dirt, and that "new car smell" makes most people feel really good.  When one feels good...a lot of us tend to shop.

      Buy a car for $4500 less then one thought, and a lot of us are saying, "Hey, maybe now I can get that...." or "Now I have the money to go on vacation."


      "Sick Around the World"

      Watch it, sent it along to all you know.

      by oxfdblue on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:20:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or, like the $8,000 tax credit for a home (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        algebrateacher, missississy, MPociask

        purchase, this program merely accomplishes one (or more) of three things:

        1. it helps artificially boost an industry sorely in need of price and quality adjustments
        1. it helps consumers engage in the same bad behavior that contributed to the economic downturn in the first place: irresponsible borrowing
        1. it provides a taxpayer funded subsidy to people who don't need it to encourage them to do something they were going to do anyway a few weeks or months from the present (i.e. it compacts weeks or months worth of steady recovery-directed growth into a few days or weeks and artificially skews the data)
        •  Not always (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I think that is painting with a very broad brush.

          There are plenty of people who have not lost their jobs, not seen their salary go down, not seen the health insurance disappear.

          The amount of money being saved has gone up quite a bit over the past year.  Eventually, some of it will and needs to be spent.

          One other item, car dealers reported that a lot of the customers who came into take advantage of the CARS program were NOT in the market for a new car at all. This was especially true of the first wave of customers.

          They would have driven their old gas guzzler until it died-- instead, the program did help create NEW customers.

          The wording of your comment makes all spending irresponsible.  My wife and I are about to buy a new dining room table and chairs.  It is not cheap.  The one we have now works, but it is too small, it is 15 years old and one chair broke.  Could we get along with it and not buy something new?  Sure.  Does our spending money on something nice that will last forever, and taking advantage of a zero interest payment plan make us irresponsible borrowers?

          No, not in the least.  In fact, our spending is good for the economy, and so is the spending of many people who took advantage of the CARS program.

          And this doesn't even touch on the environmental impact.


          "Sick Around the World"

          Watch it, sent it along to all you know.

          by oxfdblue on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 05:16:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your anecdote doesn't generalize (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            algebrateacher, MPociask

            Moreover, the fact that you are able to get a zero interest payment plan puts you in a very select group of people, credit-wise--a group that the majority of Americans don't fall under given the credit crunch.

            The "plenty of people" you mention fall into category 3, generally (but not always).

            I'm curious how you arrive at the conclusion that my comment implies all spending is irresponsible, since it doesn't, as it is related to a very specific kind of spending (borrwing to spend) and is targeted at an even more specific scenario (borrowing to spend on big-ticket items). Unless you're commissioning hand-carved, rare-wood furniture, it's unlikely your new dining room set is even in the same ballpark as the purchase of a home or a new car.

            •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Considering that the credit markets, while better than last fall, as also not the freewheeling disaster that caused this mess, the people who are buying cars and getting loans for them are much better credit risks than who would have gotten credit last year.

              And that dining room table... we could get a pretty good used car for what it is going to cost.  (One thing about not having children- more disposable income.)


              "Sick Around the World"


              Watch it, sent it along to all you know.

              by oxfdblue on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 06:08:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, you describe people in category #3: (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                algebrateacher, MPociask

                People who don't need the incentive (i.e. those who the banks consider credit worthy, with disposable income).

                We're giving tax dollars to encourage people who don't need money to shift their spending that is going to occur regardless so that it occurs now rather than later. What happens when all the #3-ers don't buy a month (or two or three) from now because they've already bought what they were going to anyway?

                Use yourself as an example. Suppose there were a subsidy for trading in old dining room sets for new ones. Would the subsidy encourage you to buy now rather than a month from now (say, so that you'll have another paycheck or two worth of savings, and your self-imposed minimum savings amount won't be breached) and in a month or two? Of course not.

                I'd be interested in seeing some numbers establishing who is buying just because the CARS program exists and would not have otherwise, say, within the next six months (or so).

  •  What if they just left the program running (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, espresso

    but raised the "Min. Fuel Economy for New Vehicle"
    and the "Mileage improvement of at least _ mpg" numbers.

    The program would slow down, but still do some good.

    Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

    by SoCalHobbit on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 01:51:45 AM PDT

  •  interview with Michael Moore: new movie (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Study CA: first GOP opens up a wedge then Libertarians plow right thru it & they are going national. ~ Hate, Greed, Lies, Gullible vs. Health Care For All

    by anyname on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:51:16 AM PDT

  •  It's a good idea (0+ / 0-)

    just like the idea to invite NASCAR to the White House. It proves that the president is encouraging a car culture, a culture that is killing us. We need to wake up and realize that this president is not going to protect the environment. And this is the most important political issue in the world.

    This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

    by Agathena on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:34:23 AM PDT

  •  It's a Feel Good Short-Term Sugar Coating (0+ / 0-)

    that's a bad idea in the long run because it only goes to show that the auto industry can kill a move to fuel efficient, more ecologically sound transport devices and methods by overpricing them.

    The auto industry hasn't learned the lesson of Capitalism 101, that to save itself, it needs to stop overcharging the consumer for its products.

    GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, etc. -- you want to revive your industry and get a constant stream of customers through your showroom doors?  The LOWER PRICES on all your vehicles.  Oh, and do the right thing, continue some form of the Cash for Clunkers program on your own.

    "Give me but one firm spot to stand, and I will move the earth." -- Archimedes

    by Limelite on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:57:55 AM PDT

  •  tax credits (0+ / 0-)

    Hey I drive a corolla but would like to buy a new one if they gave me an incentive. They should offer a tax credit for anyone who buys a car for the next year, say $1,000.
    That would get a lot of people buying new cars.Maybe make it only if the cars get a certain gas mileage.
    I get a credit for my kids why not my car!

  •  'Green' wasn't the main point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, espresso

    when I heard the runup to this idea.  It was billed as a stimulus program with green(ish) benefits, not a green program with stimulant benefits.  To me it's turning out about like it sounded.  It shoulda been, coulda been better.  But I guess real green is gonna take longer.  

  •  Now: tax credits to replace my crap windows. (0+ / 0-)

    My single pane, rotting windows.  We replaced half and got two hundred bucks.  Now, the other half seems like a good idea, buying double pane, argon vinyl.

    Home Energy Efficiency Improvement Tax Credits
    Consumers who purchase and install specific products, such as energy-efficient windows, insulation, doors, roofs, and heating and cooling equipment in existing homes can receive a tax credit for 30% of the cost, up to $1,500, for improvements "placed in service" starting January 1, 2009, through December 31, 2010. See for a complete summary of energy efficiency tax credits available to consumers.

    "I'm specificallly allowed to call people names and I don't have to use profanity to do so because I have a vocabulary unlike some of the morans on this site."

    by Inland on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 05:38:21 AM PDT

  •  Cash for bankers (0+ / 0-)

    Let us be honest-the average American will have to finance their purchase. Banks have shown over the last few months they are willing to rape the consumer with fees, high interest and sneaky billing practices (it changed Thursday-they have to mail bills out fast, wow) TO SPITE THE FACT WE BAILED THEM OUT A COUPLE MONTHS AGO!!!
    Now, we bail out CEO's of the Auto companies, who hired some workers, who will lay claim to their genius because of yet another bailout .
    Banks will reap profits from financing purchasers , and we bail out the terminally evil yet again.

    I think Obama has the potential to be the greatest president of my lifetime. I think he has some big shoes to fill to impress me past the BULLSHIT PERCEPTION of Jimmy Carter, but that is my opinion.
    When a program is done, we can't look at what we get , in this case a car ; we have to look at who is reaping the profits. The belief workers profited would be ridiculous , they will get laid off as soon as the inventory is stocked. The belief the consumer will win is just as ridiculous.
    The consumer/tax payer got saddled with personal debt financing a car, they made CEO's look like they were smart for being there and drove off in an over priced piece of equipment that lost 20% of its value when it left the lot .

    I think cash for clunkers was the biggest waste of money to date , aside from the little spoken of airline bailout as a part of TARP.

  •  Cash for mass transit should be next. In the (0+ / 0-)

    meantime, if this helps employment in the auto industry and increases gas efficiency of our civilian auto fleet, great.

  •  my 2 cents (0+ / 0-)

    Most of these ‘clunkers’ would be perfect in a used car lot, sold to people who cannot afford to by a new car even with the $4,500.  Now these cars are going to end up in landfills, dumps and salvage yards.  They are not getting recycled just adding up to the pile.

    Also anyone who thinks hybrid cars are good for the environment has never seen a nickel/cadmium mine.

  •  Thank God this is over... (0+ / 0-)

    That is all. It was good in theory, but as a car geek, seeing old-school Mustangs and Camaros go to the crusher makes me wince.

    Why the hatred against anything fun-to-drive?

  •  I would have answered 3, but ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's not the new car rules that are the problem, it's the old car rules.

    The program should be written as:
    "Any new vehicle which gets 10 mpg better than the trade-in qualifies".

    -7.75 -4.67

    "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

    There are no Christians in foxholes.

    by Odysseus on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 06:30:54 AM PDT

  •  The proper way to do this (0+ / 0-)

    is to send everybody a check for 4500 dollars.

    It is unfair to just give a few free cash.

    The Bill of Rights is universal.

    by Paul Goodman on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 06:31:23 AM PDT

  •  Good idea BUT wastes good cars (0+ / 0-)

    that the poor or charities could use. They should have found a way to have fixed that.

  •  Does anyone read Keynes? (0+ / 0-)

    I get the distinct feeling from the comments here that nobody has read John Maynard Keynes' books on economics.  Everyone just seems to be making up theories or relying on hearsay.

    Economics needs to be a required course in every high school in America or we will continue to be shrouded in the same ignorance that pervades America today.  We have only ourselves to blame for this sorry state of affairs because the vast majority of us are deliberately ignorant of economics.

  •  I got rid of my bomb last Saturday. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geotpf, greenearth

    And my gas mileage immediately increased by 15 mpg.
    As an added plus, I don't have to add oil every three hundred miles, my windows can be rolled down because they are not the electric kind that self destruct after two years, and I have working Air Conditioning again. Thank you Obama, now fork over a couple of billion more and keep on keeping on. Hey, it's part of the war on terrorism. There is plenty of money for that.

  •  well, I didn't get to take advantage of it (0+ / 0-)

    my uncle used to say, "you study long, you study wrong"

    i'm sentimentally attached to my old car and can't possibly get rid of it this weekend.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 08:03:38 AM PDT

  •  Employment (0+ / 0-)

    People should understand that what CfC did for automakers was to cut down invenories. Their emploment cylces are such that probably nobody is back to work whose employment wasn't scheduled before the first day of the rebates.
    The employment results will be seen in the near future. And the roll through the economy will bee seen over the next year.

    "I'm not opposed to all wars; I'm opposed to dumb wars." -- Obama in 2002

    by Frank Palmer on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 08:52:22 AM PDT

  •  Keynes also says know when to stop (0+ / 0-)
    Keynsian pump priming like Cash for Clunkers works, but don't get hooked, know when enough is enough and ease up on the gas... and, always remember that in Keynsian economics too, don't drive drunk!

    It worked and its time to phase it down.

  •  The public loved it, (0+ / 0-)

    it put people back to work, it was good for the auto industry and the environment....

    Umm, yeah, we're gonna have to kill this one. Looks like we made a mistake and actually did something to help the little guy for a change. Can't have that.

  •  My son traded his truck through this program (0+ / 0-)

    My son had a GMC small pickup truck that was rated at 17 mpg. It was 10 years old and he had about 150,000 miles on it. It was truly a clunker. Bumpers held on with duct tape and baling wire. Headlights had frosted over. It was really time for a new vehicle.

    He traded for a Toyota Corolla that gets about 33 mpg. Got the full $4500. His truck really should have been taken off the road.

    I'm sorry to see that some of the cars in the program are fairly new looking cars. Not sure how the economics works out for those trades, but I would hope that the majority of the cars in the program are more like my son's.

    "The word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." George Carlin

    by lynneinfla on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 11:44:07 AM PDT

  •  option 8 (0+ / 0-)

    Not a bad idea in principal, but we should be rewarding good mileage, not the people who bought SUV's in the first place.  It should be available to anyone who increases their MPG by at least 30%, whether that be a 30MPG car turned in for a Prius or a pickup turned in for a Corolla or what have you.  The 16MPG monster turned in for a 20 MPG SUV monster doesn't cut it, and is rewarding the malfeasants.

    Green is more than an ad slogan. Live Green, vote Green.

    by green in brooklyn on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:25:22 PM PDT

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